The garden looks really good just now. My sister takes care of it every weekend, and I’m amazed at how neat and pretty it is. When I peek out the back door and smell lilac, I understand why gardeners love what they do. There’s something sane, calm and peaceful about the outdoor landscape… it’s an escape for practical, hard-working people.
It makes me yearn to be that kind of person too.
I’m more the kind of person who strolls around with a camera and feels happy at the beauty other people have created. Unfortunately, Scotland doesn’t like us to have heatwaves for very long, and there’s a lot of dreich weather at the moment. Yesterday it couldn’t make up its mind between strong sun, drenching rain, and the occasional bolt of lightning. Today it decided to go ‘all rain’… dark grey clouds parading overhead with shimmering sheets of crystals dangling from their misty earlobes.
When the day was at its darkest, I came across a monster snail clinging to the upstairs window. It reminded me of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea… water all around and this muscular, glistening creature seeking a way in. Visualizing its fellows squirming all over the house, roof and all, I could understand my mother’s utter abomination of them. She gets the same look on her face that Ripley gets in Alien.
If you were on a spaceship with those things on it, you’d do better with her as a shipmate than me.
I don’t mind the odd snail or group of snails, but we have too many. They slither all over — slugs too — and roll on their backs, drinking in the downpours.
The other night I was trying to move a wheelie bin without stepping on a single invertebrate, and it was impossible. I swear there was either a slug or a snail trekking across each square foot of ground, and because it was dark, I couldn’t even see them all. Despite the best I could do, the bin and I left a trail of devastation in our wake.
Have I complained about this before? I’ve a feeling I have.
Anyhow, with the lowering weather, some sadness, and a general feeling of being under siege, it seemed a good day to activate my online CBT account.
“What’s that?” you say, suddenly looking nervous. “CBT??”
Our GP thinks it might help combat my chronic anxiety, but I ignored the activation request for two weeks. I could always think of something better to do! I don’t have raging agoraphobia any more, but I’ve had a traumatic few years… it’s like a sleeping Leviathan stirring. If it comes up again, it could be bad.
I don’t like cognitive behavioural therapy. I’ve tried it before and it left me bemused. I felt more stressed attending the sessions than at any other time, so I cut them short.
I have to confess, when I read that I would need to have a working printer in order to do the current course, I was irritated. We have ours loaded with 100gsm stuff. I was determined not to start the course till I’d dived out and bought the cheapest paper I could find — 75gsm. I put that in on top.
OK, well, I activated the CBT course today, answered a raft of multiple choice questions, then it suddenly stopped, and I was confused. It just told me I would need an up-to-date Flash Player (which I’ve got) in order to be able to view my sessions, but I couldn’t see any other links, or a home page, or even a bit of text saying “thank you — see you next week!” or something of the kind.
Is this typical NHS behaviour?
I’ve had similar emails when asking for appointments… no ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ or individual names… just come straight to the point then drop out of sight. You can imagine the staff rushing around like busy ants, so you don’t really resent it, but it’s still a little… leaves you feeling like one of those cartoon characters who was walking on rock and is now pedalling in mid-air.
Thinking about it, it was just the ‘activation’ I was engaged in… if I went back, the first session would be there waiting.
Perhaps it’s all one big cryptic puzzle designed to keep me engaged trying to figure it out so that I don’t have time to stress about anything. There was a multiple choice question I didn’t understand at all, and the only way I could dodge it was to pick the most non-committal response. I felt like turning to someone and saying, “Sorry, what do you mean?” Instead, I said it to the empty room.
I should raise that question with them in case it turns out to be something important… or is that typical catastrophic thinking? What significance could a single, vaguely-worded question have? I gave them a vaguely-worded response… fair dos.
Meanwhile, none of this helped the cats with their own issues. They sat miserably at the back door, looking out at the slurping snails. As far as they’re concerned, this type of day shouldn’t be allowed.
There’s a touch of blogger’s block going on here.
A couple of days ago a friend happened to mention it’s a good trick to write for yourself only, not for any particular audience, and to avoid editing as you write.
Today I’ll just write and see what happens.
Yesterday my sister replaced the broken old cat flap. When I checked it out, My boy cat (blog name Samson) sat bolt upright, ears straight up, staring brightly at me, one eye slowly closing in a quizzical wink. It looked like he was saying, “Well? What do you think?”
You would think he had bought and fitted it himself. And I was reminded of someone. Every so often I’ll look at him and be bothered by the feeling he’s like a character on TV, but I can never remember who. Eventually it hits me… it’s Toothless. Never anybody else. Just Toothless.
I don’t have Toothless in mind already and say “Toothless is like Samson”… I don’t do that. I can never remember who I’m being reminded of, but the resemblance… something in the expression and posture… is strong.
Although mostly silent, Samson seems to be communicating with every fibre of his being. He’ll sit and stare intently at you, and the minute you turn and catch his eye, he leans forward and his face is absolutely radiant.
Nothing cheers you up quicker. 🙂
My mother is unwell; eating very little these days. For supper last night she had three breaded scampi and an onion ring. Today she managed a poached egg on toast. When I brought a plate of food the other night, she courageously drew herself up to meet it. I said she looked like a contestant on I’m a Celebrity, about to eat something with sixteen legs.
Christmas will be a puzzle this year, as I’ve not been getting out to shop. I feel there’s not much time left online either. Still… As the citizens of Whoville found out in The Grinch, Christmas is Christmas all on its own. We still have our trappings… a six-foot silver tree, lights and decorations. The cats with their 3D superstar impressions. Sisterly visits. There will be turkey, roast potatoes and bread sauce on the day.
I’ve been avoiding Facebook for most of the year, but decided there would be no harm in checking in with people over Christmas. Was surprised to find some really lovely comments about one of my cats… two pages of them! Perhaps my friend is right when she said you can make Facebook work for you. Check your privacy settings. Choose who you want to interact with, and write about those things that are tongue-in-cheek and fun. Don’t get all serious, angry or political. If you’re not enjoying somebody’s statuses, quietly unfollow them.
Well, perhaps. It still feels to me like we’re shark-bait.
It’s nice to get away from the internet from time to time. Talking of which, I have a lot of DVDs and am in the mood to watch some. I don’t often get the chance to, but when I can, there are old favourites I have in mind.
How to Train Your Dragon
Horton Hears a Who
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Young Montalbano
Master and Commander
Those will be a good start.
*This was just an attempt to kick-start my failing blogging habit. Normal service will be resumed shortly.*
Was annoyed when I came down with the cold… I knew it was going to interrupt everything, and so it did. Blog, business in town, Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, housework, organizing stuff… everything!
A friend and I agreed there needs to be a word for something that’s halfway between a cold and a flu, as you want to make it clear to the office you’re not well enough to leave the house, even if you were well enough to get out of bed. If you say “I have a cold,” they think maybe you could have come in anyway, but if you say “I have flu,” scorn is poured on you for overestimating what is wrong with you. You can’t win!
I was reading that you can have ‘flu-like symptoms’ caused by whatever flu virus is going around, though it isn’t flu you’ve got… clear as mud! I suppose you could phone up and say “I have flu-like symptoms” but that sounds as though you’re not quite sure that you’ve got anything!
Perhaps we should make up a word of our own, seeing as the doctors don’t appear to have any suggestions. Coldenza? Grue?
Of course, there are probably things we do say, like “I have a bug, a virus, what’s going around.” If I thought of it in time, I’d go with ‘bug’. I usually don’t realize ‘there’s something going round’ till it nobbles me!
Have been mourning my weakest cells. Poor little things.
Just to let folks know I’ve got a monster of a cold! It started innocently with a mild throat, and I thought it would be over in 24 hours. But it’s like nibbling at a tiny leaf only to have something huge and scaly erupt through the sand!
Hope to get back on the blog-beat soon, but I’ll be taking it slow for a few days.
This is me… wearing Euphoria perfume and making mistakes! Missing words when I write and adding wrong endings such as ‘-ing’ and ‘-ed’ where they aren’t wanted. Making a multitude of typing errors on the flat Mac keyboard (ones that I don’t make on ordinary keyboards… in particular I seem to hit the comma when I’m aiming for the full stop. Worse, I scatter the letter ‘f’ through my words when trying to find my place by touch).
Trying to find somewhere on my desk to lay out a sheet of paper I’m copying from, but there’s no room. Then I remember I’ve got a nice solid copy holder somewhere, but I’m not sure where. Find it on my desk, sitting beside me. Prop the paper on it, not bothering to fasten it with the bar. This won’t take long.
*** *** ***
It’s half past 8 on a Tuesday night — feels more like it was Monday. Golden sunlight in the dimming outdoors, glancing off the tops of the clematis and off the sides of the trees. Sky a soft pale blue. Sun was pouring down through the loft hatchway upstairs, pooling in the middle of the soft gloom of the landing.
TV downstairs is on — one of those music shows of Simon Cowell watching dance groups that all look the same. A very nervous girl has just walked offstage in a skimpy outfit she’s not comfortable in — she looks as though in her mind she has already lost, and she is probably right. I don’t hear their remarks on the TV, or any of the music… though the music phantom in my muffled brain is playing some dignified, ‘big’, dramatic voiceless rock music that I know well and can’t identify. It’s one of the tunes that’s often there. Makes you think of sun setting slowly over heavy, glinting seas.
I’m drinking the dregs of yesterday’s coffee — it’s like stewed sawdust in water. There’s milk in it but no sugar. There are pigeons in the trees outside. Pecking, preening, flying off occasionally but always coming back. This is their home. They suffer somehow through the frosts of winter and are still here in the spring. I watch them and they watch me.
Mum is playing solitaire on her laptop. She’s moving the cordless mouse on a tray on her knee and is leaning back. It seems tired and disengaged. She said during the day she had a headache — perhaps it has not gone.
*** *** ***
My eyes smart a little, especially the left. I was at the opticians today, having a ‘full’ eye test. At one point in the proceedings she was shining a very white bright light in my eyes. The left eye stood up to it reasonably well, but the right eye kept fluttering and closing.
I nearly started whimpering in the middle of my interview with the optician — she pretended not to notice, but her bright cheeriness and warmth redoubled. I’d been upset all morning. I felt tired of trying to talk to people, maybe about important things like my eyesight, and not hearing anything they say unless they repeat fifty times or write it down. You miss things and make mistakes because of it, which results in repeat appointments etc… the very last thing you want.
I’d even got tired of pretending that I’m on board with everybody else — the polite nodding and smiling that smooths most of it over while feeling confusion about who people are and how they spend their time. Pretending I know whether a stranger has said “may I sit here?” or “is anybody sitting here?” to which the answer will be ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or ‘no’ or ‘yes’, depending. And all the time, a guilty, creeping boredom and resentment that has to be disguised.
Today I froze in the headlights, and waited for it all to stop.
I sighed and cheered up when the optician said my eyes were very healthy. I notice she didn’t add “for your age,” but I knew it was true. With my floaters, dry eyes, varifocals and blurring eyesight, it seemed an unlikely diagnosis. Especially when she said “you see better than 20/20 with your spex [sic]“, which my mother said she thought only Superman could do. Last week she said she and my sister have high blood pressure and that I might too… but I haven’t yet, it seems. Maybe because I’m the protected youngest, or because I was so sluggish this morning. “I felt like roadkill,” I said, and Mum said “you looked it.”
I suppose the thought of being deaf AND blind terrifies me. I wouldn’t be able to read what people say to me, and that would destroy what communications I have. It would just be me and the ‘music phantom’ in my head, and vague rumblings and vibrations in my environment. Perhaps a cat on my lap.
*** *** ***
It’s 0:20 the next morning and I’ve gone to bed. A Piggin leans on my shoulder. I’ve drained a glass of slightly too acid tomato juice — won’t buy that brand again. My Kindle is next to my bed in its pink Shocksock… I’m reading a rather poor whodunnit set in Egypt. But it’s not so poor that I need to stop.
The Kindle changes the way I buy books. I nearly bought an L.E. Modesitt Jr hardback for £1.50 from a charity shop, but when I noticed the stained pages, I put it back. I wonder, “do I really want MORE books taking up space, especially blemished ones that I’m too squeamish to touch? I could buy it for my eReader and highlight the bits I like, and leave it in my Amazon archive.”
It’s more comfortable reading and writing without my glasses. Everything at some sort of distance is a blur… shape, colour and a soft shine… no detail. Closer to, my hands and writing are clear. My long hair is a dark haze that frames my vision.
Last night I dreamed about white werewolves. As I watched a big one loping along, I grew nervous and asked myself why I was so relaxed? Then I remembered the werewolf was a friend who was helping me. I relaxed again, but then woke up and remembered the optician, and really didn’t want to go out.
Day came to an end eventually though, with golden sunlight and so on. It wasn’t all bad, any more than the werewolf was… though my inner rabbit waits behind my eyes, ready to pounce!
I’ve been having pain in my hands for a while… every so often when I lift something mildly heavy (like a kettle) or crumple my hand, I get a nagging twinge in my palm that makes me regret it! Maybe I have been using my computer mouse too much lately (this creative spark I mentioned… lots of erasing; scrolling through Photoshop filters; creating new layers. Painting here (dab dab dab). Cloning there (more dabbing)). I haven’t had that particular pain before, so the next thing that crossed my mind is that it’s the Magic Mouse in particular.
Other people online have complained about pain in the wrist and palm after using this rather flat, sensitive and twiddly gadget… you can’t rest your hand on it, as you would scroll and zoom without meaning to!
I don’t like the new, flat Apple Mac keyboards either… I’m a reasonably fast typist, but these boards make my hands feel strained, and I make a lot of mistakes.
I guess there are three things I should do:
(1) take a break from the computer!
(2) cut my talons (these flat keyboards were not made with long-nailed ladies in mind, and I end up stabbing the keys with the tips of my claws)
(3) dig out my graphics tablet again, and do all that Photoshop dab-dabbing with a pen instead of a mouse.
I don’t seem to be keeping up with ‘post once a week’… feeling tired at the moment. Hoping to improve in a week or two.
Here’s a subject I had in mind to bring up… it’s a bit risqué for me; on the other hand it strikes me as common sense and related to health. In fact, that is one of the points raised on the site I’m linking to… that some people might see it as a risqué subject, but it really shouldn’t be. Anyway, giving thought to this might make all the difference to the health of some women.
The thing that keeps me toeing the line (when I go out) is knowing that people do seem to watch women, and they know when you’re not wearing one, and insult you behind your back. You see it on blogs all the time: that’s how you know it happens! But maybe such attitudes should be challenged?
Catching Mum playing a computer game of solitaire before bed, I told her I had just read that if we use computers too late at night, we will have trouble sleeping. The brain interprets the bright light from the screen as being daylight, and is confused.
“WHAT brain?!” said Mum.
Anyway, it hasn’t stopped us. We still play cards, type out our journals and look up random things on eBay, Amazon or Google, then lie wide awake in our beds and stare at the ceiling. When we finally fall asleep, we dream we’re living in caves with oil lamps lighting our books.
Which reminds me, I forgot to finish my chocolate chip cheese… but who needs it? I have weird dreams anyway.
I’m reading a book that says blogging takes no time as it’s just like writing a letter.
I know what it means, but I think that ‘lack of time’ might have more to do with perceived effort (or lack of it). I could quite happily spend half the day writing emails and letters… you look up and it’s gone dark outside, with the neighbours’ lights appearing one by one.
I also read that we mustn’t blog when we are angry… I’m not angry now, but earlier I was peeved, disgruntled, flat, ruffled… and I didn’t know why. Everything seemed more effort than it was worth. Searching Google just now, I glimpsed, in passing, the words that happiness can be achieved through ‘love and work’. Also I glimpsed that boredom and loss of impetus can arise when feeling uncertain of your goals. Boredom — in its worst form — makes you feel that there’s no point to anything whatsoever. Trying to press on with a project when you’re in that kind of mood makes you feel like your brain is oozing out through your ears.
Love and work… just like writing letters… no perceived effort? A simple life, perhaps, living within rules that you understand? Is it that simple, or does it depend on the work? Perhaps having to constantly update our skills, learn new paths and become used to new environments makes everything seem a more uphill task? Especially if we have any doubts about the value of what we’re doing.
I’m not sure why I got so annoyed tonight, as though someone was stroking my fur the wrong way. My eyesight is not what it was… its inflexibility puts a spanner in the works, for instance when I’m studying a magazine article and then looking at the computer screen to type a URL or follow some tips. It becomes more of a peering, craning, removing-and-replacing-spectacles slog. You’re expending more effort trying to read something that’s not quite clear (especially when it jumps around on the screen because it’s a slow-loading site) and less energy just getting on with whatever it was you wanted to do.
It was a relief to pull off those glasses altogether and sit down with a book (Patrick O’Brian’s ‘The Surgeon’s Mate’) and lose myself in that world; reading about other people’s problems and joys. Some very big problems are reduced to “I’m a bit worried, I confess,” and “I’ll just have a word in the ear of a gentleman I know”. It’s not even that simple, as you have to read between the lines, but the calm language helps you reappraise the ups and downs of your own life. The energy and enthusiasm of the characters, along with their love and work, become mine… at least for a little.
I’ve always had a problem with waiting rooms. For years I felt almost embarrassed to say “I’m not worried about the dentist… it’s the waiting room that gets me!” I can’t hear the receptionist’s questions or my name being called… I don’t even like the fact that the receptionist is in or so near to the waiting room, so that everybody else hears our loud conversation better than I do… and if I have to wait a long time, I worry that my name has already been called and I missed it. Just the sort of thing that sends my agoraphobia into overdrive…
There seems to be a vague assumption that the onus is on the staff to make sure I know when I’m called, and that it will all be sorted out by the end of the day… but this underestimates the embarrassment it can can cause, and how worried I get about it beforehand. That sort of anxiety will make me good for nothing during the actual consultation, and it could stop me seeking treatment.
My feeling is that it’s all so unnecessary, especially where audiology clinics are concerned. I’ve only once been in a waiting room that used some kind of visual prompt that it’s your turn… and that belonged to our old family GP back in Edinburgh, 25 years ago! (Why do things go backwards instead of forwards?)
I think there should be one good overall system in use for everybody, as otherwise you do get slip-ups where the nurse doesn’t realize the person in the waiting room is deaf, and goes out to call for that person anyway. Instructing staff “if you see from the notes that she’s deaf, do this other thing” is not enough.
If I had confidence that I’d be able to speak confidentially to the receptionist, and that I would know when it’s my turn to be seen, and that the staff won’t make a mistake and shout out my name anyway, I would be less anxious about visiting any GP, dentist or audiologist. (Or in fact any unit that uses waiting areas, whether medical or not!)
I knew it couldn’t just be me who felt that way. When I looked on the internet years ago, I found nothing of particular interest, but there seems to be a lot on the subject now. The following are a small selection of the links I found:
Sign Health: Why do you keep missing me? … a PDF you might want to Google for… I didn’t link to it as there’s a QuickLink available (long one!) Excerpt: “There are countless anecdotes about deaf people seeing their doctor, invariably receiving a poor service. But until now there have been no figures to support the arguments. This lack of data makes it difficult for deaf people to convince health providers that changes need to be made.” This is worth reading as it goes into a bit more detail… it talks about things that make me think “oh yes… I remember thinking that!”